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255 × 200 × 25 mm
200 pages
86 illustrations, 85 in colour
18 Jan 2021

Painting with Demons The Art of Gerolamo Savoldo Michael Fried

The achievements of Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo were, even during a period of unprecedented artistry, out of the ordinary. Born in Brescia around 1480, he radically reimagined Christian subjects. His surviving oeuvre of roughly fifty paintings – from the intensely poetic Tobias and the Angel to sober self-portraits – represent some of the most profound work of the period.

In Painting with Demons, a beautifully illustrated book and the first in English devoted to the painter, Michael Fried brings his celebrated skills of looking and thinking to bear on Savoldo’s art, providing a stunning contribution to our understanding both of the early modern European imagination and of the achievement of this underappreciated artist.

‘A groundbreaking book on an extraordinary artist – critically astute, resolutely historical, and putting forward an ambitious and encompassing view of Savoldo's achievement.’ — Stephen J. Campbell, Henry and Elizabeth Wiesenfeld Professor, The Johns Hopkins University

‘The great achievement of this book is that it discloses the secret laboratory of a painter and makes it accessible to us. Full of surprises and of unexpected insights, it can be read as an outstanding scholarly detective novel, capable of drawing the viewer into the making of paintings. The unorthodox painter Savoldo has found his unorthodox interpreter in Michael Fried.’ — Victor I. Stoichita, Professor of Modern Art History at the University of Fribourg

‘A stunning book about a stunning artist. To follow Michael Fried through this book is to learn to see the paintings of Savoldo in a new way: to grasp the meanings of hands and their gestures, to find the strange faces that lurk in drapery and rocks, and, in the end, to see the paintings themselves as charged with both a distinctive sensibility and a unique form of Christianity.’ — Anthony Grafton, Princeton University

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Michael Fried is J. R. Herbert Boone Emeritus Professor of the Humanities and the History of Art at Johns Hopkins University. A renowned critic and historian, his previous books include The Moment of Caravaggio (2010).


1 The Death of St Peter Martyr
2 Hands
3 Faces
4 Magic
5 The Brescia Adoration of the Shepherds

Breathing the same air
Savoldo and the self-portrait
Faces, masks, Northern art
‘Magic’, ‘influence’, demons
Who, then, was Savoldo?
Savoldo and Caravaggio – the inescapable relation


Photo Acknowledgements